Surfing: Interview with Mike McCreary (Long Version) Part II

In 1981 I interviewed Mike McCreary, a surfer who also owned a surf shop on Highway 1.

Michael McCreary (MM): When I first started surfing [at the jetty] in high school, I called it the breakwater but it’s becoming known as “Surfer’s Beach” or “El Granada Beach.” I call it the “breakwater” still. Generally, it’s a small spot, no big waves, sheltered from the open ocean so the swell has to wrap ’round the headland to get in there. By wrapping ’round it loses some of its strength, strength breaking on reef off Half Moon Bay so there’s not too many dangerous currents and it doesn’t get that big and it’s a beginner-intermediate surf spot.

MM: The more advanced surfers surf at Venice and Kelly Street…The waves get very large, too large to surf but you can surf to about six or eight feet. Last winter (1980?) was the biggest swell we’ve had since 1969…I’d say the swell got up to 20-25 feet.

MM: Nobody surfed. When the swell gets that big, you have to go to Santa Cruz or Monterey. There’s so many new surfers in Half Moon Bay, at least 100. A lot of young kids, a lot of kids who boogie board.

MM: Cowboy (Craig MacArthur) is probably one of the most famous [Coastside surfers] due to the fact he’s been surfing the area for a long time, since high school. He’s a good surfer and he makes boards. Cowboy’s kind of a legendary surfer. He stands out..he’s six feet tall…

MM: Cowboy makes his own brand of surfboards and he almost makes a surfboard for us [McCreary] called the Miramar surfboard. We have our own brand, Miramar surfboards, and we have a couple of people making boards, one of them lives in San Diego.

Note: Visit Cowboy here…
…to be continued…

Interview with Mike McCreary (Long Version) Part I

[Mike McCreary owned a surf shop on Hwy 1 in 1981]

Interview with Mike McCreary (Long Version) 1981

Mike McCreary (MM): In the early fall there’s really good surfing at Venice Street and Kelly Street and sometimes Dunes Beach–primarily Venice Street and a street the surfers call N St which is halfway between Kelly & Venice. I guess it means “No Street.”

MM: Right where the pier goes out–that pier has created a channel–the pier they put out there to lay pipe. A temporary pier to lay sewarge outfall line. (I think the sewage might back up against the reef–but that’s another subject).

MM: Where the pier goes out, it creates a natural rip tide.

MM: When we get good waves in the winter, they’re usually pretty big–if you don’t have a rip tide to create a channel you can’t really get out–you can get out but you can’t have fun. The pier creates a natural channel on both sides. so the surf’s been really good there the last couple of winters which is a new spot.

MM: Pier’s been there about two years.

MM: The reason the waves are good in the fall is because we get offshore winds from the east that blow out of the canyons. When it’s warmer over here than over the hill (when the sun’s out here and the fog’s over the hill) it can create east winds for the whole area. East winds make ideal surfing conditions.

MM: From right now (Sept-March) it’s a really good time to surf in Half Moon Bay.

MM: You could surf all year ’round at the jetty–that’s a natural spot. The reason it’s good all year long is because the prevailing winds come from the northwest–and the headland, Pillar Point, locks the northwest wind but blocks the chop the wind creates and in the lee? of the jetty it’s nice and smooth and the wind kind of blows sideways.

…to be continued…

Rules of the Waves, 1981

In 1981 I interviewed Michael McCreary, owner of Miramar Surfboards, then the only surf shop in Half Moon Bay. Miramar Surfboards was located along Highway 1.

At the time Michael had surfed for 17 of his 33 years.

June: What is it about surfing that gets people hooked?

McCreary: People enjoy surfing because it’s a natural sport. There’s no engine,no sail, no ski-lift. Just you and the surfboard. Another thing that attracts people to surfing is that surfing conditions arealways changing.There are so many variables. It’s always different.

June: When can you catch the best waves around Half Moon Bay?

McCreary: Half Moon Bay is really good between September and March. The reason waves are good in the fall is because we get off-shore winds from the east. East winds made ideal surfing conditions.

Not Mike McCreary (but I sure would like a pix of him) but Jim Rafferty, a former Woodside resident, who spent a lot of him time on the Coastside surfing at El Granada Beach, seen here. Twenty, thirty years ago hardly anybody came out to El Granada to surf. You could even cross Highway 1 on foot without running to avoid being crushed by a car because hardly anybody knew of the place called El Granada.

June: Tell me where I can surf around here.

McCreary:There are several spots at Half Moon Bay for both beginning and advanced surfers. Surfer’s Beach, south of the Pillar Point Breakwater, is considered ideal for beginning and intermediate surfers. It’s a small spot sheltered fromthe ocean. The swell wraps around Pillar Point, and loses some of its strength breakingup on the reef off Half Moon Bay. There’s not too many dangerous currents. You can surfall year ’round at Surfer’s Beach because prevailing winds come from the northwest.

June: Where else?

McCreary: More advanced surfers prefer Venice Street, Kelly Street and Dunes Beach between Kelly and Venice. Ideal waves reach six to eight feet in the more advanced surfing spots.

June: And the biggest waves you remember?

McCreary: Last winter–the biggest swells since 1969. I’d say the swell got up to 20-25 feet. Nobody goesout when the waves get that big, though. You have to drive to Santa Cruz or Monterey if you want to surf.

June: Is there a surfing code?

McCreary: There aren’t any written regulations but there is a kind of peer pressure. You go out and do whatever everyone else is doing. But one cardinal rule is that the first person who gets a waves has the right-of-way. You wouldn’t want to take off in front of him. That would be rude.

June: Any more advice?

McCreary: When you fall off a surfboard the best thing to remember is not to try to get the surfboard between you and the wave because once the wave hits the surfboard,it hits you. Always try to duck under the wave or the board.

Lots of wave sitters out there today: Lots of anxious wave sitters out there today: